O’Malley gets involved in New Jersey governor’s race

Gov. Martin O'MalleyNew Jersey Sen. Barbara Buono, the Democratic nominee for governor in the state, is trying to unseat Republican Gov. Chris Christie in November. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is trying to help.

In an email sent by Buono’s campaign on Monday, O’Malley attacks Christie for vetoing gay marriage legislation last year and asks for campaign contributions to counteract “millions in tea party donations” for Christie.

O’Malley campaigned to ensure voter approval of a Maryland law petitioned to referendum that legalized same-sex marriage.

“I was honored to lead the fight for dignity and equality in Maryland,” O’Malley said. “And today I strongly support Barbara Buono, who can finally defeat Chris Christie and make sure that New Jersey is no longer the ONLY state in the Northeast that doesn’t recognize marriage equality.

“Christie and his right-wing allies are determined to win at all costs, and spend another term denying equality for the people of New Jersey. We can’t let that happen.”

Despite last year’s veto, Christie’s public comments on gay marriage have been nuanced. For instance, he has called for a voter referendum on the issue.

Delegate spars with Ravens linebacker over same-sex marriage

A Baltimore County lawmaker wants a Baltimore Ravens linebacker to sack his public support for gay marriage.

Ravens linebacker and special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo is offering up two tickets to the teams’ season opener to someone who donates to a group supporting Maryland’s same-sex marriage law. The law was petitioned to referendum by opponents, and voters will decide same-sex marriage’s fate on Nov. 6.

Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr., D-Baltimore County, has a problem with Ayanbadejo’s involvement with the campaign.

In a letter to Ravens owners Steve Bisciotti, Burns wrote it was “inconceivable” that a Ravens player would “publicly endorse same-sex marriage.” Burns said many of his constituents are “appalled and aghast that a member of the Ravens football team would step into this controversial divide and try to sway public opinion one way or the other.”

“I believe Mr. Ayanbadejo should concentrate on football and steer clear of dividing the fan base,” Burns wrote. “I am requesting that you take the necessary action, as national football franchise owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employee.”

Ayanbadejo’s participation in the debate and the campaign is hardly new. In April 2009, the Ravens linebacker penned a column for The Huffington Post headlined “Same Sex Marriages: What’s the Big Deal?

In October 2011, the linebacker appeared in a video sponsored by Marylanders for Marriage Equality.

“I support marriage for gay and lesbian couples who want to make a lifetime commitment to each other,” Ayanbadejo says in the video. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Updated, 6:29 p.m.: After being told about Burns’ letter through a Twitter message Thursday, Ayanbadejo tweeted “people are so ignorant.

He followed that tweet up with an explanation of his support for same-sex marriage.

“The fight is not about same sex marriage or interracial marriage or slavery or equal rights for women,” Ayanbadejo tweeted. “The fight is for equality for all!”

(Photo: Associated Press)

Same-sex marriage and the ‘Cone of Silence’

The story of how the Maryland House of Delegates passed same-sex marriage legislation during the General Assembly’s regular session has already been told. Still, I found it interesting to hear Del. Kathleen M. Dumais’ firsthand account, which she gave Friday during a family law session at the Maryland State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in Ocean City. (When she’s not in Annapolis, Dumais is a family law lawyer who is senior counsel to Ethridge, Quinn, Kemp, McAuliffe, Rowan & Hartinger in Rockville.)

Dumais was the floor leader for the bill, meaning it was her job to determine if there were the 71 votes needed to pass the legislation. Exactly how many votes the bill had was “kept very close to the vest,” she said. The vote count, she continued, was kept “under a Cone of Silence.”

On the eve of the vote, however, supporters had only 70 “yeas.” Dumais left her office prepared to propose “Plan B” — civil unions. But when she returned early the next morning, she was summoned to House Speaker Michael E. Busch’s office.

“We have a heroine,” she was told.

Turns out the night before, “a Prince George’s County delegate” as Dumais put it — she did not identify Del. Tiffany T. Alston by name — had requested and received a meeting with Gov. Martin O’Malley. Alston said she would change her vote and support same-sex marriage if an amendment she offered was adopted. The amendment kept the law from going into effect until any litigation related to a potential voters’ referendum on the measure was processed.

Dumais offered the amendment during the floor debate, which was passed.

“That was the key and clue we had the votes for the bill,” she said. “The whole place erupted.”

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The Eye on Annapolis Podcast

Daily Record columnist and WYPR Senior News Analyst C. Fraser Smith joined me Monday to examine the prospects for a referendum on the same-sex marriage bill, preview Tuesday’s workshop on prisoner reentry and discuss the holding pattern that has become the budget process. Enjoy.


The Eye on Annapolis Podcast

Daily Record columnist and WYPR Senior News Analyst C. Fraser Smith joins me once again on a super-sized podcast to review the big news from Friday: the House of Delegates passing same-sex marriage legislation and the Senate unanimously voting to censure Sen. Ulysses Currie.

Fraser provides some big-picture perspective on both events and recalls the last day the General Assembly made so much historic news in one day. (Hint: It was in 1984.)

We also look at Gov. Martin O’Malley’s role in the gay marriage bill and how involved he might be in legislation throughout the rest of the session. Enjoy.


Hail to the chief? Not so fast

For most of the nation, presidential campaign politics are playing out in far-away places like Michigan, Florida, New Hampshire and Iowa as Republican candidates take turns eviscerating one another and swapping leads in the polls.

But do not despair, residents of the Free State. We have a sideshow of our very own, which is taking shape daily in Annapolis. It’s about the 2016 presidential race and Gov. Martin O’Malley’s apparent ambitions in that regard.

For some time now, the governor’s attempts to burnish his national profile while serving as head of the Democratic Governors Association have been the topic of conversations over coffee and cocktails in state political circles.

A popular pastime has been speculating what cabinet post the governor might go for — Homeland Security seems to rank high among the speculators – if President Obama wins a second term.

But now that speculation is spilling into public view, often accompanied by barbed rhetoric.

After Comptroller Peter Franchot assailed O’Malley’s proposal to raises taxes on gasoline as “an absolute punch to the gut of the middle class,” the governor responded by calling fellow Democrat Franchot “kind of our version of Mitt Romney.”

Franchot retorted, ”I’m sorry if I’m getting in the way of his presidential efforts, but I’m doing my job as comptroller.” (Interesting words from a man who is presumed to be running his own campaign for governor of Maryland.)

O’Malley was also pummeled with the p-word when he testified before two House committees in favor of his same-sex marriage bill, a popular issue with Democrats nationally.

The Washington Post reported that Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr., D-Baltimore County, a leading opponent of the bill, “suggested that O’Malley must want to match New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat who helped pass a same-sex marriage bill last year and who, like O’Malley, has been talked about for national office in 2016.”

“I would love to see our governor as president of the United States, but not on the backs of his own people,” Burns said. Ouch.

So there you have it — presidential politics, Maryland style. And it’s just beginning.

Survey: Anne Arundel voters split on slots petition

The broad coalition that is working to thwart plans to build a casino at the Arundel Mills shopping mall appears to have a strong base of support in Anne Arundel County — but then again, so do its opponents.

The Maryland Jockey Club and community groups have collected more than enough signatures to put a referendum on the ballot in November to allow county voters to decide whether to allow Baltimore-based developer Cordish Cos. to build the state’s largest slots parlor next to the mall.

Anne Arundel Community College released the results of a survey Friday that shows county residents of voting age are split on the potential referendum.

Of course, the whole thing could become moot in any number of ways. At least two lawsuits have been filed in connection to the petition drive. The Jockey Club, according to reports, has spent nearly $400,000 to collect the signatures. Read our most recent story here.

But the most interesting – at least to me – potential complication is the fact that Cordish is one of the bidders seeking to buy the parent company of the Jockey Club and bring the state’s biggest horse-racing tracks out of bankruptcy. One would imagine Cordish, as owner of the club, wouldn’t look too kindly on lawsuits it filed against his $320 million casino project.

The survey also asked county residents about the opinion Attorney General Doug Gansler recently issued on out-of-state, same-sex marriages. Nearly half of those surveyed, 48 percent, agreed with his stance that the state should recognize legal same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, while 44 percent disagreed. Del. Don Dwyer, R-Anne Arundel, has said he will try to impeach Gansler on March 31 for issuing the opinion.

The survey covered 640 county residents over the age of 18 and has a 4 percent margin of error, according to the college.

Dwyer: Gansler impeachment motion coming soon

Del. Don Dwyer Jr., R-Anne Arundel, said his much-publicized move to impeach Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler will come soon. But the outspoken advocate of “traditional” marriage is keeping his exact plans under wraps.

“They (House leadership) don’t know when I’m going to impeach him because I don’t have to tell them,” he said Thursday, addressing a small gathering of supporters and members of the press. “It’s going to be a really interesting showdown in the next couple of days.”

Dwyer was expected to make the impeachment motion Thursday. He stood early in the House of Delegates floor session and, as his colleagues watched, waiting for the motion, Dwyer asked staffers to make sure he was recorded as present in the roll call.

Dwyer said he did so to gauge the reaction of the rest of the House.

“I doubt it’s likely (to work), but I’m going to do everything I can to make it happen,” he said.

Dwyer’s push to impeach Gansler stems from the attorney general’s opinion issued last week that Maryland should recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states. Dwyer has pushed for a ballot referendum to decide the issue.